In a week where the whole country has been celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, patriotism has been a watchword for everyone living in Great Britain. However, Her Majesty may be disappointed to hear that a charitable organisation of which she is patron has been ousted from a North Staffordshire commercial property hospital to be replaced by a chain store.
The Women’s Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS) has provided tea and sympathy to patients and visitors alike at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire for fifty years, operating a small commercial property in the lobby of the building and serving hot drinks and snacks to outpatients in the waiting rooms. However, as the hospital recently underwent a transformation, becoming “City General” – a superhospital commercial property – officials have informed the WRVS that their services will no longer be required.
Instead, a branch of Costa Coffee, owned by Whitbread Breweries, will set up shop in the commercial property lobby. While undoubtedly offering a high standard of refreshments, this shop may not be staffed with workers keen to lend a sympathetic ear to consumers.
The announcement has sparked outrage from patients and visitors who regularly stopped by the small commercial property tearoom for a cuppa and a chat. They claim that this is nothing short of profiteering by the owners of the superhospital.
June Davis, who frequently visits the hospital commercial property, says; “It’s the end of tea and sympathy and the dawn of the big buck. The Queen on her Jubilee would be disgusted to see this happening.
“The WRVS ladies always had tome for a chat and a sympathetic ear as you can get a lot of tears and heartache in a hospital.
“It’s hard to see that being replicated at a Costa Coffee.”
Ms Davis is not alone in openly criticising the move, as others back up her claims that getting rid of this service will mean hundreds of visitors to the commercial property hospital will lose an invaluable emotional support.
Although the WRVS will continue to operate a small commercial property tearoom at the nearby University Hospital of North Staffordshire maternity unit, they will have a hugely decreased consumer base. The maternity unit is a separate commercial property entirely, so Costa Coffee will benefit from the majority of outpatients, visitors and accident and emergency patients visiting the new City General Hospital.
The voluntary service are popular with the local community, and last year raised tens of thousands of pounds for the commercial property hospital, most of which went towards the construction of the new superhospital.
WRVS service delivery manager for Staffordshire, Lynn Hensman, said; “We are disappointed to confirm the closure of our outpatients and orthopaedic tea bars. Unfortunately, there is no space for WRVS services in the new hospital.
“We would like to thank our volunteers who have worked so hard and given their time to make services at the hospital a success.”
Do you think that NHS commercial properties are becoming too commercially driven? Would you prefer a more personal service over a commercial property chain store when visiting your local hospital?